GOI banned 59 Chinese apps including popular app TikTok

NEW DELHI: As they seek an urgent meeting with the government, the 59 Chinese apps ordered blocked by India have been served with an exhaustive list of questions to which they need to respond within three weeks.

The questions are understood to have been served to firms such as TikTok, Helo, and Xiaomi and seek details around a variety of issues, including data management practices, sources told TOI.

The questionnaire is understood to have around 70 questions, and among the various queries are those that seek details about “unauthorised data access” by the companies to having weak security features leading to espionage/surveillance through unauthorised data access, the sources added.

The questions have been sent by the IT ministry and dashed hopes of the companies to seek an immediate meeting with senior government functionaries to put up their point of view.

Asked for a response, a spokesperson for ByteDance-owned TikTok said: “We have received a communication from ministry of information and technology and are working to respond to them within the stipulated timeframe. Ensuring data sovereignty, security and privacy of our users has always been and will continue to be a top priority for us.”

After the order to block them, ByteDance had said it would meet officials to clear their stand on the government’s charges.

An official said the set of questions “have been crafted to get a clear response from the firms on a variety of issues, including their structure, data collection processes, and how they harvested data/information of Indians.”

The questions also cover aspects such as getting details about the companies’ financial structure, and also about their organisation. The responses are keenly awaited by top government functionaries and would be considered by a high-level panel that has members from the intelligence bureau, internal security, cybersecurity wing, DoT and the IT ministry.

TikTok To Change Corporate Structure?

As it battles a ban on its services in India, TikTok said it is considering changes to the company’s structure. “As we consider the best path forward, ByteDance is evaluating changes to the corporate structure of its TikTok business … We will move forward in the best interest of our users, employees, artists, creators, partners, and policymakers,” a spokesperson told TOI.